AWS and Gaming: Bandai Namco Studios Inc. case study.

Bandai Namco Holdings Inc., also known as Bandai Namco Group, is Japanese holding company which was formed by the merger of Bandai and Namco on September 29, 2005. The group under the brand name of Bandai Namco Entertainment Inc. is a multinational multi-platform game developer and publisher, headquartered in Minato-ku, Tokyo.

The brand since it’s formation has developed some of the most sensational games and gaming series to ever come from the Country of Rising Sun. This includes games like the Dark Souls series, Pac-Man, the Tekken series, Ms. Pac-Man, Super Smash Bros and anime games such as Dragon Ball Heroes, Dragon Ball Xenoverse, Digimon Story, One Piece: World Seeker, Doraemon Story of Seasons etc.

Bandai Namco Studios Inc. an indipendent offshoot of Bandai Namco Gaming has also created many sensational games just like it’s parent brand. These include games such as Tekken 7, Tekken Mobile, Taiko no Tatsujin series, Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U etc.

One such game developed by Bandai Namco Studios Inc. named Drift Spirits gave the developers a unique challenge. Drift Spirits is a 3D racing mobile game which focuses on drifting rather than simple racing unlike other such mobile games. It was released for iOS in November 2013 and May 2014 for the android platform and had 5 Million downloads in Japan alone by 5th of June, 2015. It also is free to download and play.

The game also incorporates social gaming elements and for all its uniqueness the studio during the development anticipated wide fluctuations in number of users and hence the servers in short period of time. This meant adding and modifying server resources, but the challenge was creating such servers would be time consuming and it might fail to meet the service needs of players. Also operating and administering online servers was a hectic job.

Solution

Given all the challenges the studio knew they would have to outsource the server job, and they started discussing the use of Amazon Web Services. The studio didn’t have to think for long before opting for AWS as it won’t only make rapid addition and modification of the servers much easier, but would also provide better performance, cost reduction, better security, and availability like none other.

For building it’s systems the company was to use a combination of services that were well suited for their requirements. This included Amazon Elastic Cloud Computing (Amazon EC2), Amazon arelational Database, Amazon ElastiCache, Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), Amazon CloudFront, and AWS OpsWorks which enabled complete coverage from development to the production environment. Bandai Namco has configured multiple development environment for developers to test and develop multiple versions in parallel.

Result

“Using OpsWorks to automate the configuring and running of servers enabled us to cut costs, particularly in terms of personnel and server expenses. This was extremely beneficial.” -Shigeo Nakano, director of network entertainment development at Bandai Namco Studios.

The use AWS has lead Bandai Namco’s engineer to add, modify, and remove server resources timed with game events, and also has shortened release dates and support an increase in the number of monthly active users 100-fold during events. It has also enabled the possibility of minimising the server latency issues specific to server-response speed. Also the ability to reduce the unused server quickly in addition with the payment option of Pay As We go has lead to dramatic cost reduction of over $50,000 in hardware costs. And the reduced efforts in creating servers results in more time spent focusing on application development.

Shigeo Nakano adds, “We recommend that anyone with an interest in AWS try it out.”

That’s it for now. Arigato Gozaimasu. Matane👋…